Freeport, Illinois – The Housing Authority of the City of Freeport (HACF) was recognized with an award from the Illinois Association of Housing Authorities (IAHA). IAHA annually gives recognition to an Illinois Housing Authority and HUD Official for their outstanding achievement in housing through various awards.
This year the HACF was awarded the IAHA Outstanding Achievement for Creativity Award for the Conversations Over Pizza (C.O.P.) Program. The IAHA Award for Outstanding Achievement for Creativity recognizes programs that produce housing in an innovative manner, improve the efficiency of administrative operations or improve client services.
The Conversations Over Pizza (COP) Program is designed to build healthy relationships between the cops and youth and families in the community by starting with conversation. These conversations have led to exceptional results including a committee of volunteers taking action, strengthened capacity of community members, indictments of two murder suspects, and action-oriented solutions to address safety concerns in the community. HACF’s COP Program focuses on the safety and wellness of our residents and the Freeport community.
The Program is an informal meeting time in a community facility for community members to informally sit around tables, enjoy pizza, and discuss concerns with possible solutions and action plans. The COP meeting attendance has grown from 15 in attendance at the first meeting to over 80 different individuals attending at least one meeting. The COP meeting location is held at various locations throughout the community to encourage all community members to become involved.
Chief Todd Barkalow shared at a COP Meeting with community members, “We deserve to be safe and we will be with the community’s help….It starts with things like this (COP Meeting) in building relationships.” Sgt Andrew Schroeder added “the information from the community is vital.” Due to this program success, Mr. Williams expanded the program to have separate Conversations Over Pizza each with pastors, school principals, and parents that started in July 2016.
To learn more about Conversations Over Pizza (COP) Program, please visit www.conversationsoverpizza.org and on Facebook. Please contact Larry Williams, HACF Chief Executive Officer, at 815-232-4171 Ext 1015.